March 2016
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The SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends Executive Board is preparing for regional, state and national conferences. If you would like to be more involved with your state or regional events, contact us to help you connect with the state director or state alumni coordinator. Contest coordinators, judges, courtesy corps and more are needed. Let us know if you need help connecting. 
New Regional Representatives
Akshar and VirginiaPlease welcome two new regional representatives to our alumni executive board.

Akshar Patel, from Illinois, represents Region 3. He has been involved with SkillsUSA for 10 years, is a former state officer and is currently a career development coach at Illinois Institute of Technology. Patel competed in carpentry and pursued a degree in civil engineering.

Region 5 representative is Virginia (Mata) Martinez from California. Martinez served as a California state officer and as a national officer for SkillsUSA when she was a manufacturing student. She is the operations manager for Technical Employment Training Inc. Martinez also brings experience as the former state events coordinator and state officer trainer for SkillsUSA California. 
New Grants Help State Alumni Associations Get Started
Startup grants were awarded to South Carolina and New York to conduct alumni recruitment activities in their states. The $250 grants were awarded to help start and provide activities for their respective alumni associations. 
Seeking Auction Items for NLSC
The Alumni and Friends Executive Board is seeking donations for two alumni auctions to be held at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) this summer in Louisville, Ky. The first auction will take place during the Alumni Networking Reception on Wednesday, June 22. The second, a silent auction, will be held during the Alumni Appreciation Luncheon on Friday, June 24. Proceeds from both auctions help provide funding for scholarships, grants and alumni association activities. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Dara Dubois at or Byekwaso Gilbert at Thank you for your support of the SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends Association. 
Alumni Board Seeks Nominees for Regions 2 and 4, Executive Chair
SkillsUSA is accepting nominations for qualified and motivated Alumni and Friends Association members to serve on the alumni executive board. Nominations are being accepted for executive chair as well as Region 2 and Region 4 representatives.

All nominees must be active annual, lifetime or honorary life members in good standing of the SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends Association. In addition, a nominee must have been an active member for at least 12 months preceding the date of nomination.

Nominees for Region 2 must be from one of the following states: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Nominees for Region 4 must be from one of the following states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota.

Nominees for executive chair may be from any state.

Nominations must be submitted to the national headquarters by April 15. You may nominate yourself or any alumni member in good standing. If you have questions, please contact Byekwaso Gilbert by email at, or by telephone at 816-726-4255. For nomination form and guidelines, visit:
Recognize Alumni for Their Achievements and Contributions
Two alumni members have the opportunity to be recognized during the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) in Louisville, Ky., during the opening ceremony on Tuesday, June 21.

The Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award is presented to a SkillsUSA alumnus who has been out of school for at least five years, has demonstrated outstanding leadership and service for career and technical education and SkillsUSA, and has contributed to or advocated for his or her career field or career and technical education. Nominees can be state association directors, state staff, other alumni, industry representatives, SkillsUSA board members or teachers.

The Outstanding Alumni Member Recognition Award will be presented to a registered SkillsUSA alumnus who has graduated from a SkillsUSA program, made significant contributions to national, state, regional or local SkillsUSA events, activities or students, has given back to SkillsUSA or is an advocate for career and technical education.
Nominations must be received by April 1. For details and forms, visit:
Win a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle
Harley DavidsonTo benefit the alumni association, SkillsUSA will once again hold a drawing for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle at the national conference awards ceremony, Friday, June 24, in Louisville, Ky. This year’s motorcycle is a Softail Slim S model with a “Screamin’ Eagle” air-cooled twin cam 110B™ engine. It has a military theme with olive gold denim paint, and the rest is black. This event is made possible thanks to a generous donation by Harley-Davidson Motor Co. Inc. 
State alumni groups have an opportunity to sell tickets for the drawing and raise money for their own state groups, or to support the national alumni association. Tickets are $5 each or five tickets for $20. For each ticket sold, the state alumni group selling the ticket will receive $2. For more information about this fundraiser and to order tickets to sell at your SkillsUSA state events, please contact Heidi Walsh by email at
Alumni and Friends Merit Scholarships Offered
The SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends Association is offering two annual, merit-based $500 scholarships to qualifying students. The $500 scholarships will recognize the unique qualities of SkillsUSA students including leadership, commitment to community service, and advocating for career and technical education. Application deadline is May 1. For complete details, visit:

Alumni Success Story

Ryan BrownSeeing Life Through a Camera Lens
Growing up in a photo business, Ryan Brown is comfortable with cameras and technology. In high school, he studied video production at Fort Vancouver (Wash.) High School and became a member of VICA, now SkillsUSA. Brown and his team won a gold medal at regional and state competitions for three years in a row.

In 1996, in his senior, Brown was named its Most Outstanding Video Production Student and the Most Unique Student. His success in SkillsUSA and high school gave him the confidence to pursue anything, and over the years, he has done that.

As technology became more affordable and the Web became the voice to reach the world, Brown began to create an online persona that was noticed by the music and film industry. He gained respect for his work and twice was invited to Australia to film music videos for platinum hip-hop artists. Recently, he was flown to Manhattan to participate in a technical panel. He was invited to be an official blogger for the largest U.S. broadcasting expo, the NAB Show, sponsored by the National Association of Broadcasters. He has also been interviewed for Videomaker magazine.

Brown truly believes these opportunities happened because of the opportunity he was given to shine at his high school and in SkillsUSA. Now, he’s paying it forward. For the third consecutive year, he will be judging a future storytellers SkillsUSA short film contest. Happy to give back, Brown feels events like these can make a meaningful and lasting impression on one’s future. It did for him.
SkillsUSA Massachusetts Keeps Alumni Engaged
SkillsUSA Massachusetts has a great example of how to structure a state alumni association and keep alumni active. The alumni association includes approximately 35 to 50 volunteers at each major state conference. From the moment the conference attendees arrive until the day they leave, the alumni members are engaging them. This army of leaders coordinates the student activities and workshops, allowing the state director and state staff more time to provide teachers with the tools needed to be successful advisors.

Here are some of the highlights from the SkillsUSA Massachusetts Alumni and Friends Association:
  • Members donate $1,500 a year to various charities such as the Pan Mass Challenge, Doug Flutie Foundation for Autism, and Be Like Brit
  • Members give two $500 scholarships to graduating seniors
  • Members co-host an annual holiday party for underprivileged children
The SkillsUSA Massachusetts alumni association is led by a board of 13 members and includes one advisor, six executive officers and six district representatives. Known as the “yellow jackets,” alumni conduct various fundraisers throughout the year including a raffle, Ducky Derby, restaurant fundraisers, and selling pizza and snacks at all the conferences. They have an alumni blog, website, listserv and social media presence. They plan to add a Web page where former SkillsUSA members who own businesses can advertise their services. You can checkout their website at: or contact their state alumni coordinator, Angela Bellaro, at
Regional Reports

Region 1
James Rhodes — New York
In March, James Rhodes plans to attend the SkillsUSA Maine State Leadership and Skills Conference in Bangor, at United Technologies Center and Eastern Maine Community College. Those interested in helping out or joining the SkillsUSA Maine Alumni, please contact Emily Hughes at
New York is continuing efforts to build their alumni association and website.
SkillsUSA Massachusetts held a networking event for their alumni in Boston. They are planning a major recruitment push during their upcoming district conferences. If you want to be part of this effort, please contact Angela Bellaro at
Region 2
Glori Grinner — Georgia

Georgia: The state alumni association is preparing for the SkillsUSA Georgia State Leadership and Skills Conference (SLSC) in Atlanta in March. The Georgia SLSC is the largest event with which the alumni association assists each year.
South Carolina: During SkillsUSA Week, South Carolina’s state alumni association visited the state capitol in Columbia for Leadership Day. They met with their state representatives along with their SkillsUSA state officers and delegates.
On March 12, South Carolina is hosting an alumni night at the Dave & Buster’s restaurant in Greenville for fellowship and fun.

The spring conference meeting will be April 9, where assignments will be made for the state conference April 14-16. At the spring conference, alumni will sell T-shirts, as well as tickets for the SkillsUSA Harley-Davidson fundraiser.
SkillsUSA South Carolina also purchased iPads to sign up members and take pictures for uploading to social media sites.
Region 3
Akshar Patel — Illinois

Illinois: SkillsUSA Illinois Alumni and Friends are organizing volunteers for the state leadership and skills conference. Approximately 20-25 alumni return to volunteer each year. Alumnus Eric Hill started as a postsecondary competitor continued as a state officer and is now state executive director. Most members who volunteer at the state conference were once competitors. The SkillsUSA Illinois alumni and friends now have a website. Visit: to find updates and volunteer opportunities. 
Region 4
Terry Robinson — Oklahoma

Iowa: For the first time, Iowa will be hosting a TECH-EXPO at the state conference April 28-29. Tables for industry partners are $250 and educational partners are $100 per table.
Minnesota: The alumni team pitched in with the October leadership conference and the November delegate conference, and held a holiday potluck in December. The alumni coordinators also met with the state officers and board of directors to work on the Minnesota Strategic Plan and Vision 2020. Assignments for states, in Bloomington, April 1-3 will include taking over TECHSPO, holding an alumni auction and serving as judges for various contests.
Nebraska: Once again the alumni played key roles in the Mid-America Conference. Eight states were represented among the 165 participants in attendance. Nebraska alumni are gearing up to help at the state conference, anticipating an increase in participants from last year.
Oklahoma: New leadership includes chair Bre Willard. Other board members include Robert Hanson, vice president; Bruce Long, secretary; Paul King, treasurer; Sharon Childress, membership; Sheila McMurry, media relations; Kelcy Hunter, industry partner; Michael Emery, Northeast representative; Elly Rader, North Central representative; Maria Lopez, Northwest representative; Stoni Peck, Southeast representative; Tracey Gabehart, Southwest representative; and Craig Lewis South Central representative.

Oklahoma alumni will be represented at each of the six district leadership contests sites to promote membership and assist with contests. Again the alumni will be providing leadership chairs and judges at the state championships, with 133 alumni already signed up to help. Gabehart will be the contact person for the Annual Alumni Auction, while King and Hanson will supervise the food-bank community service project.
Texas: SkillsUSA Texas Legislative Day was held Feb. 7-8 in Austin. Alumni conducted student training. This arrangement has been going on for several years with Eduard Sanchez, formerly of Townview Law Magnet, taking the lead this year. He worked with Crystal Smith, who attended Mabank High School; Sergio Cavazos; Brandon Comisarenco and Jonathan Garcia.
Region 5
Virginia Martinez — California

California: California’s 49th state conference will be held at the Town and Country Resort in San Diego, March 31-April 3. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Loretta Cabuyadao at California is looking for event judges and prizes. Please contact Gilbert Vallez at if you would like to participate in California’s conference events.
Nevada: Nevada is looking for alumni volunteers for its state conference. The conference will be held in Reno April 12-15. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Coleen Read at or 775-240-9152. 
Oregon: Sam Freshner was presented an alumni award on the stage at the National Leadership and Skills Conference in June. He teaches law enforcement at Sabin-Schellenberg Professional Technical Center in Milwaukie.

Several alumni members signed up to help judge and serve as tech chairs for the state leadership and skills conferences. The alumni also run a drawing to benefit Valiant Seed, a 501(c)3 started in Oregon for homeless veterans ( SkillsUSA Oregon partners with this organization to raise money and awareness and to volunteer time.
Washington: Washington’s state conference is March 31-April 2. The state conference will be held at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma. Alumni Jesse Chem and Jesse Garrison have stepped up to take the leadership of running the state leadership contests.

Wyoming: This past year, the Wyoming Alumni and Friends Association reached out to SkillsUSA chapters, members and other alumni via social media and regular updates. In February, they shared chapter ideas to promote SkillsUSA and Career and Technical Education. Alumni worked with the state officer team to plan for state conference as well as Legislature Day, when the officers visited the state capital to observe proceedings and meet with the governor and local representatives. 
Keep Checking the Website for NLSC Volunteer Details
Alumni attending the national conference are urged to volunteer some time with the alumni association. Keep checking the SkillsUSA website for volunteer registration and positions:
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